A GARDA chief superintendent has been appointed to investigate tensions in the force's 'cold case' unit which was set up to examine unsolved historic murders.
Sources said that the Serious Crime Review Team has been riven with disputes over the past year. There is now speculation that the unit may be disbanded.
The Sunday Independent has learned that a chief superintendent from a division outside Dublin was appointed last week to examine the situation.
Earlier this year a member of the unit, Detective Sergeant Michael Buckley, succeeded in getting a High Court injunction to stop him being transferred to another garda unit.
Det Sgt Buckley claimed that he was the subject of bullying and harassment. His colleagues denied the claims.
Sources said that the internal issues reached the point some months ago that the unit began to encounter operational difficulties
In the past, the unit has had some successes in bringing historic cases to court and secured a number of convictions. But it has failed to make inroads into many high-profile murders.
It carried out a review of the 1999 Raonaid Murray murder in Dun Laoghaire but did not make any advances on the initial investigation. The case continues to be under review, but not by detectives from the unit.
Some senior gardai were opposed from the outset to creating a small standalone unit. The Serious Crime Review Team was set up mainly because of the high levels of publicity surrounding the cases of the missing and presumed murdered young women in the Leinster area during the Nineties.
Similar units had been set up in Britain and had some successes in solving historic murders, mainly through advances in DNA profiling.
The garda cold-case unit claimed one such success in 2002 following the conviction of retired Army sergeant John Crerar for the murder of 24-year-old Phyllis Murphy in Kildare in December 1979.